Criticism Theory

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By Irvin Ehrenpreis

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Extra info for Acts of Implication: Suggestion and Covert Meaning in the Works of Dryden, Swift, Pope, and Austen

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Things < previous page page_22 next page > < previous page page_23 next page > Page 23 do not happen like that, and Dryden makes small effort to persuade us that they do. Lyndaraxa's strength as a femme fatale is given, not documented. Abdalla's ambition may be acceptable, because we bring to the theater a belief that men naturally desire all the power they can get. But we do not nowadays believe that intense ambition is easily distracted by lust, or that an unconquerable warrior will change sides so impulsively as Almanzor does.

We also see it is the true Amphitryon who shows the heroic, impetuous character of figures like Almanzor; and alas we see it is the false Amphitryon who has the upper hand. Heroism is out of style along with integrity and legitimacy. A pharaoh reigns who knows not Joseph. The nature of Dryden's interest in sexual passion did not make it easy for him to use spectacle as a means of implying his attitudes. But if voyeurism could not be fed with a twentieth-century diet, other proclivities could be.

Part 1, V, 32334) When I speak of the "adequacy" of the language to the occasion, I do not pretend that it peculiarly reveals a unique personality, or that it is close to the speech we might use in actually suffering the emotion. I mean that Dryden finds images 3. Corneille says of his utterly evil Cléopatre, "[Tous] ses crimes sont accompagnés d'une grandeur d'ame qui a quelque chose de si haut, qu'en meme temps qu'on déteste ses actions, on admire la source dont elles partent" (preface to Rodogune, quoted in Dryden, Works, X, 392).

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